By Rod Macdonald
Strength Z Shipwrecks of the South China Sea: HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse
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Additional resources for Force Z Shipwrecks of the South China Sea: HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse
On reaching greenock the following day, Prince of Wales moored out in the river whilst a succession of ships topped her up with oil, water and stores. admiral phillips and his staff came aboard and the admiral’s flag was hoisted on the new flagship. Prince of Wales, now flagship of force g, left greenock on Saturday 25 october 1941, bound for Singapore via freetown, Sierra leone and cape town, escorted by the destroyers hMS Electra, hMS Express, and hMS Hesperus. force g rendezvoused with hMS Repulse from the indian ocean at colombo, ceylon in november and proceeded to Singapore.
Later that day, there were reports that units of the italian fleet were approaching the convoy. Prince of Wales, Rodney, and the aircraft carrier Ark Royal were despatched to intercept, but the search proved fruitless. The convoy arrived in Malta without further incident and Prince of Wales returned to gibraltar, before sailing on to the royal navy base at Scapa flow, in the orkney islands of north Scotland. She arrived at the great 12-mile wide anchorage of Scapa flow on 6 october 1941. Force G – singapore-bound on 20 october 1941, the decision was made to send a small but powerful naval force to Singapore to deter Japanese aggression in the region.
This would allow the British ships to approach rapidly and unseen in darkness to a range close enough not to endanger Hood from plunging fire from Bismarck. The plan’s success depended on Suffolk maintaining unbroken contact with the german ships – but Suffolk lost contact with Bismarck for a period during the night. , when Hood and Prince of Wales were about 35 nautical miles away. The loss of contact now put the British ships at a disadvantage, as the ships would converge at a wider angle – much more slowly than in a swift head on approach.